x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Abu Dhabi donates $32m for Queensland cyclone shelters

UAE gift follows devastating Cyclone Yasi, which hit Australian coast in February.

Abu Dhabi has donated US$32m (Dh120m) to Queensland to help protect the Australian state from cyclones in the wake of a monster storm that hit in February.

The aim is to build 10 multipurpose shelters that will each protect more than 500 people.

Anna Bligh, the Queensland premier, said the donation was "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to do something in two years that might have otherwise taken 20 years". "We will build these shelters as quickly as we can," she added.

Cyclone Yasi, the most powerful to hit Australia in a century, roared on to the Queensland coast in February, smashing buildings and trees with winds of up to 290kph.

The UAE Minister of State, Reem al Hashimy, said the donation was in addition to an earlier one of Dh4m from Etihad airline.

"This commitment signifies Abu Dhabi's long term conviction in the relationship between the emirate of Abu Dhabi and the state of Queensland," she said.

Ms al Hashimy, who is is in Australia as part of a Gulf-based ministerial delegation to boost trade and investment, said she had been moved to act after watching the television coverage of the category five cyclone.

"What has struck me particularly is the strength and resilience of the Queensland people," she said.

Ms Bligh, whose government faced criticism for its slow response to Cyclone Larry, which hit the same area in 2006, said her government would match the UAE's gift.